As the weather warms and people go outdoors, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding everyone to leave wild animals alone, especially their babies.
Species such as birds, deer, and snakes are active this time of year and their young often stray or appear to be abandoned. Well-meaning people sometimes attempt to “help” these strays, typically baby birds and fawns. However, such human-animal encounters are unnecessary and can even be detrimental to the wildlife concerned, the department warns.
The deer fawning season begins in early to mid-May. A newborn fawn’s mottled coat and mother’s care usually hides it from predators. As fawns mature, they shed these coats for a more adult and eye-catching color. A doe might leave her fawn for hours at a time while she looks for food. People coming across the fawn might think it has been abandoned, but that is rarely the case, according to the TPWD.
Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists emphasize that people should leave all young animals alone unless it is obviously injured or orphaned. To be sure, spend time observing the wild animal from a distance. Staying too close could deter the mother from returning. Interfering too soon may do more harm than good.
The same principals apply to young birds, which might be out of their nests but cannot fly. If the bird’s eyes are open, it has a coat of feathers, and is hopping around, it is probably fine, according to the TPWD. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
If it is determined that a wild animal is sick or injured, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department encourages people to contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Note that TPWD staff advise the public not to handle or transport injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife.
Learn more about what to if you encounter orphaned or injured wildlife and how to contact rehabilitators on the TPWD Wildlife Division webpage.